Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wildcard Weekend: Mens sana in corpore sano by Kate Hardy

It’s that time of year – the one where people resolve to eat properly, exercise properly, tone up, yada yada yada. (Or do I mean it’s the time of year when people start slipping from their resolutions? *g*)

I didn’t do the ‘diet and fitness’ resolution exactly, this year. What I resolved to do was to find some exercise I actually enjoy, and stick to it.
Dog-walking - well, Dog hates the 'Gentle Leader' (which turns his head gently to the side to stop him pulling) collar, but if he would get it into his little doggy brain to stop pulling so hard, then walkies would be nicer for both of us. Plus... I confess, he is the laziest Springer in the world and he gives me The Look if I suggest walkies in the rain. (The Look meaning, 'Are you nuts? When I have a nice comfy bed waiting next to your desk and you should be working?') So dog-walking really works best when DH is there to be firm with Dog, and I can just trot along beside them.

The obvious solution would be to do some kind of class. So I asked around a bit. Nicola Marsh has been saying for ages how fab Zumba is. Julie Leto suggested Jazzercise (I liked the sound of that, but sadly the nearest class to me is a half-hour drive away). My neighbour suggested going to Salsa classes with DH (I liked the idea of that, too, but I couldn’t talk him into it).

So, classes. I used to love Step classes in my ratrace days (I did two or three lunchtime classes a week, back then). Then I did Aquafit for a while (switching to the antenatal version when I was pregnant with son).

However, all the morning classes near me (whatever sort they are) don’t start until mid-morning, and I know I’d just faff about until it was time to leave for class instead of working, so it’d be a wasted morning. Then I’d feel guilty about not doing any work, and that’d defeat the object of having a healthy mind in a healthy body.

How about going to the gym? Hmm. I’m not really into weights and machines. (I own a decent treadmill. When it was still in my office, I, um, used it as an extra bookshelf. DH has moved it and occasionally uses it, but when it’s too hot or too cold or… You get the picture. Not used.)

How about doing an exercise DVD? Yeah. I have some of those, too. Somewhere in the house. (Maybe in the attic?)

But then… we all know what I like. Tecchie stuff. Toys. (Yes, I still love my iPad and want to marry it.) I used to enjoy Wii Fit, but to be honest the gaps while you have to ‘wait and watch, then repeat the action’ are a bit tedious, and you can’t fast-forward it to actually doing the stuff. So I fell off that wagon, too.

But my son had been talking about Project Natal. It was a system with a sensor that meant you controlled an X-box game with your body movements. I loved the sound of it, but was it going to live up to the promise? And, more to the point, would a fitness program work?

Well, I talked myself into it last week and bought Kinect (aka Project Natal), along with a fitness program (Your Shape Evolved – at the moment, well… I’m that blue blob below. Hopefully I will evolve into something a bit more twiglike. And I think wearing leggings rather than wide-leg trousers might improve my tracker skeleton a bit!).

It’s great. You really can control the program by movements - stretch your arm out, and your hand appears on the screen. (There's also a kind of negative image in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen showing you in the play area. The dog looks way cool there.)

The sensor puts my image up next to the trainer (and the dog!), and I can see for myself where the movement needs correcting, so it's much more effective. The class is easy to follow (I don’t mean easy to do – it does make you work! – but you don’t get lost), and you can track your progress. It tells you how many calories you've used (these are zero, btw, because I was taking photographs of the screen rather than actually doing the exercises.)
You can choose whether you want a nice girly trainer or a hunky hero. (My choice is a girl for personal trainer, and a hunky hero for cardio-boxing. Haven’t got to Zen yet – and no, I don’t mean gorgeous Rufus Sewell in Zen, nice as that would be, I mean Zen as in a tai-chi type class – but am looking forward to it.)

There’s also a place to play, too. And you can do multi-player. There’s a light-stepping game (a bit like a dance mat, really - only one flaw here, i.e. you can't put your own music as the playlist, but the ambient stuff isn't that annoying); and a game where you do cross-body punches and kicks to break ‘boxes’. (See right. That one’s really good when the revisions aren’t going so well and you need a break. As good as kneading dough, but without the pain of trying to resist carbs once the bread is out of the oven, if you know what I mean!)

So I think I might just have found some exercise I enjoy doing – and I love the tecchy element of it!

What’s your favourite form of exercise? And does it inspire you to work?

Champagne with a Celebrity is out in the US this month – and, despite the name, it’s actually all about perfume! In the UK and US, you can still get hold of A Christmas Knight from the Mills and Boon/Harlequin websites – it’s also on the shelves this month in Australia this month.You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website ( and her blog (


  1. Sounds exciting, Kate! I love yoga, and my dog pretty much insists we take a hike in the woods everyday. She gets grumpy if we don't.


  2. Hi Kate

    You motivated me the other day because we were talking about this. I've just bought Just Dance 2 for the Wii fit and told my children they are banned from upstairs while I'm using it! I'll let you know how it goes. If I'm still fat at RNA this year we'll just not mention it!

  3. Sounds fun, wish I could do something like that but my joint probs and poor balance mean I spend most of my time falling over. I like aquarobics but the classes here are so popular they get really full.

  4. You are so right in saying how important it is to find an exercise that is *right* for you. I can't abide the gym so my exercises of choice are swimming and walking (the dogs). Caroline x

  5. Kate, we just bought a Wii (about ten years after everyone else), so might try Wii Fit, but I'm not very good at self-motivating (hence my extremely slow writing process!!). I used to do tons of swimming and cycling and spin glasses, but I totally fell off the wagon at the end of last year cos of back ache (oh, all right then, butt ache... cycling has turned my gluts into points of pain!). So now I'm just doing the cross-trainer at my gym. May try the Zumba class though, although everyone doing it looks intimidatingly thin and perky (hate when that happens!)

  6. Amy - yoga's one thing I haven't tried. Might give that a go. (I did try the Zen thing on Kinect and it was quite tough - need to stretch before I start it, I think.) My dog doesn't get grumpy, sadly - he is the laziest spaniel in the world!

    Susan - JD2 is great fun (daughter has it). LOL that you make the children stay downstairs! When I'm in routine, I do mine straight after the morning school run, before the caffeine kicks in, so the only one who sees me is the dog ;o)

  7. Susan - I missed that bit about being a blob. Honey, you looked GORGEOUS at the RNA, so don't do yourself down!

    Nell - hugs, because joint problems are literally a pain. And yes, the good classes do seem to fill up quickly!

    Caroline - yep, I reckon that's the major bit of the battle. (Hopefully we will get the family swim this week, depending on the Family Crisis, sigh.)

  8. Heidi, I thought you did masses of cycling (I've always been mega impressed that every time we've met for coffee in London you've cycled there - not sure whether the exercise or the bravery impresses me most). Hugs on glute pain. (That was me after the steps to the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame on the same day - I felt SO middle aged!) And, um, can I point out that you're thin AND you look like a 50s film star? Don't be intimidated by the gym twigs, because you're fabulous :o)